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As this question notes, the law concerning cooking a young goat in its mother's milk appears three times in Torah: Exodus: 23:19, Exodus 34:26, and Deuteronomy 14:21. It's placement in Deuteronomy fits somewhat with the preceding laws: do eat this, do not eat this, etc... - laws that all deal with diet.

However, its placement in the two passages in Exodus strikes me as unusual. In both cases it comes in sections dealing with the annual festivals. In Exodus 23:14-19, the law appears to be part of the instructions particular to the Festival of Ingathering (though perhaps not). While in Exodus 34, the instructions seem more applicable to festivals and sabbaths in general.

Why is this law specifically included in these two sections dealing with festivals?

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1 Answer 1

According to Jacob Milgrom:

Both ideas inhering in the kid prohibition—the reverence for life and Israel's separation from the nations—are also present in the dietary laws, the former in the blood prohibition and the latter in the animal prohibitions. Thus the kid prohibition was automatically locked into Israel's dietary system. Therefore, it should occasion no surprise that the kid prohibition, which in Exodus is related to the cult and sacrifices, is transformed in Deuteronomy into a dietary law. Deuteronomy, it should be recalled, has transferred the act of slaughtering an animal for its flesh from the sanctuary to the home. With the centralization of worship at the Temple, Deuteronomy had to enact a concomitant law permitting common slaughter in order to obviate the necessity of journeying to the Temple each time a family desired meat for the table. The result is that the taboo of cooking a kid in its mother's milk, which needed but to be observed within the sanctuary compound while under priestly supervision, henceforth had to be heeded by every Israelite family, without outside supervision, in every kitchen.

I believe this theory assumes that Deuteronomy was edited into final form sometime during or after the establishment of Jerusalem and its Temple as the center of worship in Israel. However, the principle of decentralization of animal slaughter seems to be a theme of Deuteronomy.

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